Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

African American Studies

Advisor(s)

Linda Carty

Keywords

Racialized and Gendered Labels, Respectability, Skettel, Transnational Black Feminism

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

Through a framework combining historical materialism and transnational Black feminist epistemologies, this study examines how working-class and poor Black women in Kingston, Jamaica negotiate, make meaning, and respond to the label of the Skettel and the tensions that arise in this process. The Skettel is defined as a woman who is perceived as having questionable morals, a characteristic measured against middle-class respectability. Respectability, as it relates to women, privilege a conceptualization that maintains that body language, sexuality, dress codes, and verbal communication should follow European conventions. As such, the Skettel stands as the antithesis of European notions of respectability in general, and respectable womanhood specifically. These ideologies facilitate control and promote the exclusionary politics often prescribed to working-class Black women’s bodies without acknowledging the sites of struggle that these women engage with within a capitalist patriarchal society. Therefore, it is essential to understand the lived experiences of these women as well as deconstruct how labels such as the Skettel are racialized, gendered, and class-defined, influenced by notions of respectability and reproduced through socialization.

Access

Open Access

Available for download on Sunday, August 15, 2021

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